by Bill Mees and John Besser, Nature Areas Committee

Most years, February is the month when winter’s grip loosens a bit and we get a hint of the coming spring. This year, we spent most of the month inside our homes, trying to avoid both coronavirus and frostbite. But we know that March will bring warm weather, spring wildflowers, and migrating birds, and many of us will head outdoors again.

Wild Haven work (and play) days during 2021

Here’s your chance to get outdoors and help Columbia Audubon manage our largest nature area. The nature areas committee has been planning a series of monthly work and play days at the Wild Haven nature area. These events will generally occur on Sunday afternoons, from 2 to 5 PM. For the foreseeable future, we will stay in small groups and follow coronavirus protocols for social distancing and wearing masks. Here is our preliminary schedule:

Bill Mees, David, and Jean Neely burn autumn olive brush piles at Wild Haven.

March Wild Haven workday: Burning brush piles (Saturday March 13, 9 AM-noon)

Our Autumn Olive control project last fall generated many brush piles of cut stems. We’ve waited several months for these fresh-cut limbs to dry out, and we think that they are ready to burn. If weather conditions are not too dry or windy, we plan to torch several of these piles to clean up the area around the picnic shelter. This doesn’t qualify as a play day, as we will need to haul some of the limbs to more convenient areas for burning, but there is some satisfaction in watching our biggest invasive species problem go up in smoke. Much of our time will be spent ‘supervising’ the bonfires to make sure they stay put and making sure the coals are out cold before we leave. Be sure to bring a mask, and fire-resistant, long-handled tools like rakes and hoes will come in handy. If we have enough volunteers, some of us may break away and make sure our bluebird houses are in good shape for the nesting season. We’ll meet near picnic shelter. If you have questions, contact John Besser (

April Wild Haven field day: Guided wildflower hike (Sunday, April 11, 2-5 pm)

Enjoy the beauty of spring wildflowers in bloom as we walk the white and yellow trails (total distance of about 2 miles). We expect to see over a dozen species of wildflowers in bloom and it will be prime time to see the bluebells and trilliums, also to become familiar with the trails, enjoy the scenery along Hinkson Creek and look for birds. Roxie Campbell (Naturalist at Rock Bridge State Park) will provide wildflower identification and information. Meet at the picnic shelter. COVID-19 guidelines will be followed.

If you would prefer to visit on your own, signs will provide identification and some information for each wildflower species as it comes into bloom during the month of April.  These will be placed along the yellow trail between where it departs from the white trail and before it crosses an intermittent creek, primarily in the Hinkson bottomland. Trail maps will be available at the signboard next to the picnic shelter.  Check the bulletin board for a map and an example of a sign.

[Directions to Wild Haven (or just Google it: 6900 E. O’Rear Road):  Take Route B north from US 63.  Cross the RR tracks, then turn right on Brown Station Road. Continue on Brown Station past the first stop sign (Route HH), then take the next right turn onto O’Rear Road.  After O’Rear turns to gravel and passes Sheridan Road, look for a clearing on the right, a gate, and a sign with the street number ‘6900’. The gate should be open, and you can park on the grass.]